Although businesses will already have overall business and marketing plans in place, there is an increasing need for a separate strategy document specifically for the digital environment. With business plans typically looking three to five years into the future, there’s a need for more nimble plans agile enough to cope with a rapidly-changing online world.
A digital strategy document details how your company handles different aspects of its digital presence, how it is currently performing and how it aims to improve performance in the future. Typically, it covers website, mobile, email, social media and digital marketing.
Before writing a digital strategy document, you will need to have carried out extensive research, so that you know you company’s aims, objectives, aspirations, branding, audience, market share, current performance, financials and so on. For the purposes of this blog post, we’ll assume that you and your team have all the facts at your fingertips and are ready to get writing. So what are the main areas to include?
Aims and objectives
Tied in to your overall business strategy, it is crucial to specify at the outset just exactly what you’re trying to achieve through the use of digital technology. Any goals will need to be tangible and clearly measurable.
Breaking your strategy down into sections based on each target demographic makes sense. Think about who your audiences are, where they are from, what devices they use, their core need, their habits, preferences and the ways in which they can best be reached.
Knowing the size of each market is essential and this information should be included in your digital strategy. How many people in each area are you marketing to? What is your potential reach? Remember to consider the past and projected growth of your various markets too.
Product and branding
How does your digital strategy fit with current product positioning and branding and how can it add to your customer’s experience or ease of access? Identifying key areas of product and branding can help to drive your digital strategy forwards.
Channels and communities
Using your detailed knowledge of your target audience will help you to ascertain the best channels for digital implementation. Think in terms of platforms, devices and communities.
Competitors and environment
An analysis of the competition is crucial if you are to make a significant impact with your digital strategy. How are your competitors using digital technology to move forwards? Innovate and move in your own direction, but don’t forget to keep an eye to what your competitors and the rest of the industry are doing too.
Identifying trends and keeping up-to-date with the latest technological advances is key to keeping your strategy moving.
The most important factor in implementing any strategy is the people. So include information about who is responsible for what and who makes which decisions. It’s critical to have a flexible decision-making process built into your strategy.
The main part of your plan will be on your priorities for improvement. Like a business plan, it’s important to have a roadmap of where you’re going, although it’s likely to have a shorter overall timeline (perhaps two years for long-term objectives with milestones along the way, subject to change).
It’s difficult to give accurate and realistic projections of cost in such a fast-moving and evolving area, but a possible way around this is to move away from fixed costs to a programme of on-going digital development, similar to standard marketing budgets. Include build costs and maintenance costs where you can and ensure that priorities are identified.
A number of policies should be in place to run alongside your strategy. These could include policies on social media, accessibility, design, writing, usability testing, development and content removal.
Assessment and reporting
Assessment of current performance and recommendations for short- and long-term improvement should form part and parcel of your strategy document. Make sure any data is relevant and strategy-driving.
Digital areas to cover
Content-wise, your digital strategy will need to include sections on:
- Responsive design/mobile site
- Native apps
- Tone of voice
- Listening and watching
- Trigger-based emails
- Privacy issues
- E-commce and M-commerce
- Banner advertising
- Affiliate schemes
Creating a digital strategy is an exciting, forward-looking and innovative experience, building on existing success, embracing the new and setting a clear path for your company’s future development. Hopefully the above blog post has given you a taste of what digital strategy documents are all about and how to set about writing your own.